As I read through a four-page supplement from the Mothers’ Walk for Peace, I was struck by the irony of the words in Clementina Chéry’s commentary, entitled “Beloved Community: Why We Walk” — especially when she wrote, “Homicide and street violence are not sensational. They are not a phenomena of every so many years. They are woven into the fabric of our daily existence and yet for some reason we continue to tolerate it.”
Her passionate words came on the heels of two horrible incidents of violence. On May 8, an 18-year-old was killed while walking down a Dorchester sidewalk with friends. Three days later in Roxbury, a short distance away from Dudley Station, a 15-year-old was killed on his way to school. They were the 17th and 18th murder victims of 2009 on the sometimes deadly streets of Boston. More mothers were left to mourn their children’s murders.
I grew up in Roxbury, not far from Dudley Station. The area could be sketchy at times; you always had to keep your back covered. I lived for a time in Orchard Park and got street-smart early in life. Looking back, as bad as we thought times were back then, they were the good old days compared to the killing fields I see today when I look at my old boyhood ’hood. There’s too much violence, too many deaths and too little hope for improvement.
How can you empower folks to change and seek a better future? How do you address the climate of fear?
I recently passed by the scene of the latest death, where police now stood all around. But police surely aren’t the answer; they are just the response to the violence. The answer must come from the people — the community, religious and business leaders, the mothers and fathers, uncles and aunts, brothers and sisters.
The Louis D. Brown Peace Institute’s mission is “to create and promote an environment of peace and unity, where young people and their families are valued for their peacemaking efforts.” We need mothers and fathers walking for peace on a daily basis. I support the self-empowerment principles of the Peace Institute and the Mothers’ Walk. It’s not just that children are our future — it’s that they have a right to their own. Our job should be to get them there safely.
Violence breeds hopelessness, but it can also build resolve inside an embattled community. Communities have to take back their neighborhoods and make them safe. It is a group effort. One day, we won’t need any Mother’s Day marches for peace, because we will have found it. I pray, with Clementina and everyone else, to see that day.